Have you wondered about those big yellow and black KOA signs positioned off almost every major highway in North America? Well, KOA stands for Kampgrounds of America. KOA boasts about five hundred campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada.

The friendly manager in the yellow shirt at  the San Francisco/Petaluma KOA.

The friendly manager in the yellow shirt at the San Francisco/Petaluma KOA.

KOA has been around for fifty-two years. In 1962 Dave Drum and his business partners set up their first campground in Montana for travelers headed to Washington state for the Seattle World’s Fair. They now have their first television commercial.  The video of the commercial is titled “KOA: Where to Find Your Perfect Campfire.

In a recent NY Times article, KOA talks about their mission to  create awesome family vacation memories.  According to the same article, last year the company began designating it’s campgrounds into three categories:

  • Journey – convenient stops for one-night stays
  • Holiday – campgrounds that are destinations in themselves
  • Resorts – campgrounds with upscale features (restaurants, group meeting spaces, saunas)

KOA’s mission is getting people to experience outdoor living and creating happy campers. From personal experience as a camper for over thirty years, I can attest to the consistency in quality of facilities and services from the majority of the KOAs where I have stayed during those years. Most of my KOA experience has been in the west and the southwest U.S.

Tree lined lane of cabins at the San Francisco/Petaluma KOA.

Tree lined lane of cabins at the San Francisco/Petaluma KOA.

My particular favorite KOA is San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA. In addition to the wonderfully friendly and helpful staff, it is located in a beautiful pastoral setting on the north side of Petaluma, California.

From this KOA, one can take daytrips into San Francisco, to Napa Valley wine country, to the ocean at Bodega Bay or to Point Reyes National Seashore, to smaller and quaint Sonoma County towns and cities of Sebastopol, Healdsburg and Occidental. It really is in a perfect location to do some great sightseeing of the area.

Kids love climbing and jumping at the SF/Petaluma KOA

Kids love climbing and jumping at the SF/Petaluma KOA

The SF North/Petaluma KOA grounds are nicely kept with several dozen cabins and lodges and nearly 300 RV and camping sites. The family can truly enjoy the campground with a large playground for the kids, a climbing wall, a small petting zoo (that’s where the picture of the little goat in the girl’s arms was taken), a big swimming pool and a hot tub and small store in case you forgot your toothpaste.

Campers and travelers stop at the SF North/Petaluma KOA from all over the world. During my stays there, I’ve met people from Switzerland, Australia, India, China, Japan, Germany, all provinces of Canada along with many Californians and other U.S. citizens. The campground is pet-friendly with a large grassed and fenced-in off-leash dog play area.

If you want to find your nearest KOA or if you want to reserve a campsite or cabin in advance while traveling, they have a great online reservation system. Take a look for yourself and see what your options might be.

Happy travels everyone!